The carnival came to Albany during the 1940s.
For just one day, Barbara and Don Clow wanted to be on the midway.
So the two kids from Middleburgh decided to begin an adventure.
“It’s 42 miles,” said Don. “At least it used to be, without the new roads. Nobody was going to help us. We walked and hitchhiked from Middleburgh to Albany, to say nothing at how surprised our mother was.”
Here are a few other details. Barbara and Don lived with their grandmother, Lucretia Isabel Conover. Their mother, Evalena Clowe (Evalena added the “e” later in life) worked in Albany and believed the best place for the kids was Lucretia’s place in Schoharie County.
Barbara and Don have been dishing out other details for the past week. The brother and sister had not seen each other for 66 years, and reunited last Monday in Barbara’s room at the Capital Living Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre on Altamont Avenue.
The time was right for the reunion. Barbara — now Barbara McGough — is battling pancreatic cancer. She received a great surprise when Don and his family, wife Wen-Hsiu and son Hugh, made their visit from the Honolulu area of Hawaii.
“It’s the dream of a lifetime,” said McGough, 82, who has lived in Schenectady for the past 45 years. “I thought it would never happen. I had prayed and prayed that we would see each other before something happened.”
Clow, 84, who lost touch with his family shortly after leaving for the service in the Korean War, spent many years in places such as Taiwan and Okinawa, Japan. He was able to locate his sister about 10 years ago and they were able to chat on the telephone. They always thought they would meet again in person.
“I said, ‘I’ve got to see you,’ and she said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to see you,’ and we didn’t go see anybody,” Clow said.
With Barbara’s illness a topic of serious conversation, Clow decided it was time to make a long airplane trip. “I’m not getting much younger as time passes on,” he said. “I thought, if I’m going to see her I better go see her while I can still do it, so here I am.”
Power of faith
McGough has loved seeing the brother she has not seen since around the late 1940s. “I’m sick,” she said of the disease. “This is a very special type of miracle that has happened to me now.”
McGough knows the power of faith. She worked in the day care center at Refreshing Spring Church of God in Christ for many years, and also worked in the church with her friend, Georgetta Dix.
The past week became time for stories and big laughs. Like the time Barbara came in late one night, and found her grandmother waiting behind the door. Lucretia, nimble and fast as an older woman, gave chase when Barbara decided to make a run for it.
And because Lucretia believed in old-fashioned styles of correcting children for errors in judgment, she often clipped branches from plants and trees to assist in punishment. Barbara, shortly before she left Lucretia’s house, clipped all the branches off the lilac bush by the house. So Lucretia’s arsenal was temporarily depleted.
The family members have also remembered big Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in Middleburgh. McGough said her mother used to come in from Albany, and the kitchen became a busy place.
“We had the most beautiful holidays,” McGough said. “My mother would come in and fix the meals.”
A giant family meal was in the planning stages last week. “We were going to leave today (Thursday), but we tricked them,” Clow said.
McGough’s room has been full of grandchildren and great-grandchildren (there are over 70). Clow said they haven’t run out of things to talk about. “If I was here for six months, we wouldn’t be able to cover everything,” he said.
McGough, who has lived at Capital Living since this summer, has enjoyed talking about the good times from her life. The rockier times have not been discussed.
“Everybody has bumpy times,” Clow said. “Didn’t you?”
The illness is serious, but McGough is serious about her religion. The doctors say one thing, but she believes a higher power also has a say in the matter.
“My full trust is in the lord,” McGough said. “That’s who I’m here with right now. I know the lord can perform miracles.”
Do you have an idea for a future “Type A to Z” profile? Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.
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